In a major intervention, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the lower court in Varanasi not to proceed with the hearing in the Gyanvapi case till the matter is heard in the apex court on Friday. The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, P S Narasimha and Surya Kant, while hearing an application from the counsel for a Hindu plaintiff seeking time to file a reply, gave this order.
The order says: “We, accordingly, direct the trial court to strictly act in terms of the above arrangement and to desist from taking up further proceedings in the suit in view of the consensus which has been arrived at between the parties.” The bench fixed 3 pm as the time for Friday’s hearing in this case. It also asked the Registry to seek administrative directions of the Chief Justice of India so that the Bench may be constituted.
In the apex court on Thursday, advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain told the bench that the lead counsel for Hindu plaintiffs, Hari Shankar Jain was indisposed as he was discharged from hospital on Wednesday. He urged the court to post the matter for Friday. Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, told the bench that several applications have been filed across the country to “seal” various mosques, and in the Gyanvapi case, an application has been filed to demolish the wall around the ‘wazukhana’ (ablution pond). Ahmadi said an undertaking should be given that Hindu devotees will not proceed with the civil court proceedings.
Meanwhile, in the civil court in Varanasi on Thursday, the commission appointed by the Civil Judge (Senior Division) filed its report on the survey conducted in Gyanvapi complex, along with documents, videos and photographs. Special Advocate Commissioner Vishal Singh declined to divulge the contents of the survey report. “From my side, this is the final report. If the court feels it is adequate, it is fine, otherwise we will go by the directions of the court”, Vishal Singh said.
Meanwhile, both the Hindu and Muslim sides continued with their arguments and counter-arguments in public. While the Hindu side lawyers claimed that the black stone found was an old Shivling, the Muslim side said it was a fountain. The Hindu side challenged the Muslim side to show the public whether the fountain was working since there was no pipe or water connection. The Muslim side claimed that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb would not have left the Shivling untouched when he demolished the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The Hindu side quoted ‘Shiva Mahapuran’ to say that in many cases when the temples were destroyed, the Shivling remained intact.
A new video of the ‘wazukhana’ emerged on Wednesday which shows the Nandi idol facing the eastern wall of Gyanvapi from outside the grill, and the ‘wazukhana’ located 83 feet away. The video showed the Shivling covered from all sides by around brick wall, and an unsuccessful attempt was made to give it the shape of a fountain. One of the survey team ex-members, R P Singh, was fully confident that it was an original Shivling, but the Muslim side countered by saying that the so-called Shivling was located above the roof of the basement. Normally, there must be no room under a Shivling. The Hindu side claimed that the doors of the basement must be opened to check whether the remaining portion of the Shivling was inside the basement. R P Singh showed an old map to show the foundations of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple.
Another petitioner Sohan Lal Arya demanded that apart from opening the doors of the ‘wazukhana’ basement, the mound of rubble near the western wall facing Shringar-Gauri must be excavated as it would yield major clues about an ancient temple. The mound of rubble is 72 feet long, 30 feet wide and 15 feet high, he said. He has already filed a petition on this in the civil court.
Meanwhile, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has entered the fray, and has said that the Gyanvapi case will be fought not only by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, but also by AIMPLB, which will send its legal team, said Sufian Nizami, spokesperson of Darul Uloom Firangi Mahal. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has supported the AIMPLB decision, saying that now that a series of demands about mosques are being made, the board should assign the work to its legal team.
Owaisi told India TV that when the Supreme Court gave its verdict in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid case, several people said that Muslims should show a large heart and accept the verdict. “But now they want to occupy Gyanvapi mosque and other mosques. How large can we show our heart?”, he asked. “if you want to excavate 450-year-old mosques, then why not excavate 1,000 to 2,000 years old temples? You may find old remnants of old Jain temples and Buddhist stupas?”, Owaisi argued. Maulana Hakimuddin Qasmi, general secretary of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, on behalf of AIMPLB appealed to all Muslims not to take the issue to the streets and keep it confined to law courts. He said the Jamiat will help the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee in courts.
It is up to the courts to decide on the Gyanvapi issue, based on evidences and facts, but this is an issue on which debates cannot be stopped. Nobody can stop people from putting forth arguments from both sides. The Hindu side has quoted 21st ‘shloka’ from 22nd chapter of Shiv Mahapuran, which says, “अविमुक्तं स्वयं लिंग स्थापितं परमात्मना। न कदाचित्वया त्याज्यामिंद क्षेत्रं ममांशकम्..” It means this self-made Shivling cannot go anywhere in the world outside Kashi, because it was Lord Shiva who had installed this Shivling named “Avimukta”. Lord Shiva has directed that this Jyotirling carrying my parts shall not leave Kashi”.
The people of Kashi consider the holy city the town of Baba Vaishwanath (Lord Shiva). Invaders can break temples, but nobody can take away Baba from Kashi, say the devotees of Lord Shiva. Invaders like Qutbuddin Aibak, Razia Sultan, Sikandar Lodhi and Aurangazeb tried to defile Kashi and demolish Kashi Vishwanath temple, they tried to take away the Shivling away from Kashi, but failed, say the devotees. They say this is a matter of supreme faith. The Hindu devotees are not demanding the Masjid back, they are only seeking permission to pray at the Shivling that has been found. My personal opinion is that since this matter relates to faith, it would be better if it is resolved amicably and peacefully.
Here I would like to quote a Samajwadi Party leader Rubina Khan, who said, Islam does not permit building mosques by demolishing temples. “If Gyanvapi Masjid was built by demolishing a temple, then the prayers (namaaz) of Muslim devotees will never be accepted by Allah. Muslim side should not be adamant, and our ulema should hand over this mosque to the Hindus”, she said.
There are few people in our country who can speak out frankly like Rubina Khan. Most of the maulanas have said, whether a mosque was built on land occupied, or by demolishing a temple, if it is a mosque, it must remain so, and Muslims will not hand over their mosque.
Surprisingly, there are several maulanas and Islamic scholars in Pakistan who say that Islam does not permit building mosques on land occupied by others. They say that prayers (namaaz) are not accepted in mosques built by demolishing temples or other shrines. They say, Muslims should leave the mosque and hand it over to the Hindus.
I have seen several TV debates on Pakistani news channels where these scholars have said so. All these could be mere statements. The legal battle will continue in the courts and the other battle will be fought politically. Till now, it was a dispute between five female Hindu devotees and Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, but with the entry of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board into the scene, it has now become a Hindu-Muslim issue.
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